Farewell India

Three planes, two outfit changes, and 30 hours of travel has me back in Columbia, Missouri. It almost feels like the past six weeks have been a dream. Although I have physically returned, my mind is still lingering in India.

Saying goodbye to the teachers and students at Delhi Public East was difficult. I grew very close to my host teacher and her home classroom. She has inspired me to be patient, kind, and motherly to all of my students. 4K (my home base classroom) will always have a special place in my heart. I have never met students so intelligent and genuinely kind. My entire last day consisted of constant hugging, exchanging of emails, and questions asking when I will return to India. As I walked  out of the school I knew in my heart that I would eventually make it back to see the teachers and students who have impacted my life in such a short amount of time.

The next day it was time to leave Bangalore and Fly to New Delhi. Once we arrived in New Delhi, we drove 4 hours to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and Red Fort. Five minutes after stepping off the bus to start our sight seeing day we were already dripping sweat and pulling our hair back into buns. I have never been so hot in my entire life. I was afraid I would need an ambulance to pick me up from the Taj. Besides the heat our day was incredible. Needless to say, the Taj was everything I could imagine and more. It truly is a wonder of the world. The translucent marble that it is built with glows from under the moon and almost blends in with the hazy sky during the day. I feel incredibly lucky that I have been able to see and walk inside the Taj because it is not something that most people get the chance to experience. Once we were done exploring and taking millions of pictures it was time to head to our next sight. Red fort was a fascinating visit. This fort looked like a building from the medieval ages and was ginormous inside. It also has beautiful marble rooms and immaculate details. What I loved the most was being able to see the backside of the Taj looking over the river from ref fort. Once we were done visiting both sites ( and sweating away about ten pounds of water weight) we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed back to Delhi. Once in Delhi we prepared for our flight home.

Now I am sitting in my apartment in Columbia, Missouri wondering how six weeks flew by so fast and thinking of the people I left behind in India. I truly believe that India has changed me for the best. I do not think I have returned the same as when I left. India has left me feeling enlightened and more aware of the world around me. I am so thankful for Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Gabrielle, Tony, and the International Knowledge center for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime. I will never take the experiences I have had on this trip for granted. India has taken a piece of my heart.

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Top Ten

My teach abroad in India is coming to a quick end. I really can’t believe I have actually been living in Bangalore for a month and 1/2! Then again, I can see how I’ve grown and changed during my time here. I decided that I wanted to devote this blog post to my top ten favorite things I have loved during my trip.

10. Casa Cottage Hotel- I have loved living at Casa Cottage. Our quaint bed and breakfast is located in Richmond Town near the Johnson Market. The neighborhood is family friendly and has several great places to eat that are in walking distance. I also love that the neighborhood has a diverse mix of religion. The primary religion in this neighborhood is Muslim, but Hindus are also scattered throughout. I think that Casa Cottage is the perfect place for travelers to stay because it creates a safe atmosphere amongst the big city.

9. Rickshaws- Although I almost always get ripped off (overpaying) by rickshaw drivers, there is something about riding around Bangalore in an auto that gets my blood pumping. I love the feeling of being able to be right amongst the traffic and feel everything around me. I really think the United Staes needs to look into getting small autos because its cheap and is easy to use.

8. Clothing- What makes shopping fun in India is that most of the time you get to bargain for what you want. Even though I am not a master I have been able to get some satisfying deals during my time here. The clothing ( my favorite purchases) are the exact opposite of anything I would have ever worn at home, and that is why I love it! It is bright, flowy, and conservative, but somehow I feel gorgeous anytime I wear my purchases. I have also fallen in love with silk scarves. I have bought one for my aunt, two for my mom, and two for myself. Not only have I gone over board on the scarves but also on accessories. The necklaces and rings that I have bought at commercial street will forever be my prized possessions.

7. Chai Tea – Everyday I make sure to set a mental alarm telling me when the chai tea at school will be served. I do not think any other chai tea in the world will compare to the masala chai I drink in India. This is a tradition I will miss so much and I have already asked my teacher for the recipe.

6. Greenery- When I was imaging my time in Bangalore I did not picture this city having so many beautiful flowers, trees, and parks. It is amazing that so much greenery can be present within a booming metropolis. I also love how everyone decorates their porches with potted plants. It has definitely made me more interested in keeping plants around my apartment when I return home.

5. People of Bangalore- I have loved getting to know the culture of Bangalore. The people are what make this city great. I have not come across many that are not genuinely kind, helpful, and excited to meet me. Every time I have visited a school or been to a shop I have always been offered chai and asked several questions about myself. The people in India that have treated me ( a foreigner) so well make me so shameful of the way Americans treat foreigners. When I return home I plan on using the hospitality they have taught me.

4. Diversity- A 4th standard student at DPS East once told Chrissy Moore that India has a place for everyone and that it is one of the most culturally rich countries in the world. After six weeks of living that statement I can testify that that is the truth. Never have I been to a city, state, or country that is so accepting of different cultures and religions. Other countries need to model this behavior. If more places in the world had this mentality the world would be a different place.

3. Delhi Public School East- I will forever miss walking on the campus of DPS East. Not only are the plants and trees gorgeous but the white buildings, marble floors, and monkeys give the school character. This school has become a home away from home and I can not imagine myself not scheduling a trip to return and visit.

2. Teachers- The teachers that I have been able to work with at DPS East have changed me for the better. I am always impressed by how patient and kind they are everyday having forty students in their classroom. Not only are the motherly and supportive, but they are also stern and protective. These are all the qualities I hope to embody once I am a teacher and I am so thankful I have been able to learn from the best.

1. Students- The students at DPS East have won my heart since day one of my journey. These children are kind, driven, and the most hardworking students I have ever met. The students at DPS East are going to be world changers. These students are driven to be the best and will not give up until they are. It breaks my heart knowing that my last day is tomorrow. I know I will most likely never see these children again, but I can hope that I have impacted them as much as they have impacted me.

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Dancing Queens

For the past 6 weeks, myself and five other girls have been practicing to perform a modern Indian dance for the last night we are in Bangalore. I was not exactly excited about the idea of performing a dance for the rest of the group and IKC workers, but I knew this was just another way I could immerse myself in the Indian culture.

Our dance instructor, Aditi, has been an absolute joy to work with. She is sassy, easy-going, and very patient with our lacking dance skills. She choreographed our dance to go along with two different songs. The first song is very fast paced and up beat! Personally, I think this is the harder of the two. It requires fast foot work and detailed hand motions. The second song is slightly slower and is easier to follow along with. The reason I prefer the second song is because it requires the entire group to work together. In the second song we have to create a synchronized line and form a circle in a certain amount of beats. We also each have two scarves in our hands that we are shaking at all times. This makes the dance more visually appealing. Today is our last day of practice and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous for the performance that will be happening in just two days! Even though I originally was not excited about dance practices or performing, I am happy that went out of my comfort zone to participate in this activity. Learning this modern dance has taught me even more about the Indian Culture and is something I am able to bring home to the states.

Singular vs. Plural

This past Friday was a treat to say the least! After asking my school coordinator if it was possible for me to work with second standard students, my wish was granted. On Friday morning I walked into a completely different atmosphere than my usual 4th standard home base. Second standard is louder, more chaotic, and beaming with energy. As I introduced myself to the class, I was bombarded with questions asking about why my voice was funny and why my hair was creamy. After answering, what seemed like a million questions on just my physical appearance, I was finally able to reel in there focus for the lesson I was about to teach. This would be my third lesson at DPS East, but my first second standard lesson.

While preparing for this lesson I was nervous about different things. How long would their attention span last? What would I do if the lesson ended too soon? What happens if I can’t speak over all forty of their voices? Luckily, my teacher quieted down the class and they were ready to give me their focus.

The lesson I prepared for this class was over singular and plural nouns. I began the lesson by discussing the differences between singular and plural nouns. Afterwords I had students give me different examples that they would come up with while I wrote them the board. I like to start my lessons having students discuss because I feel it gives students the chance to collaborate with one another. When students collaborate they often learn more than they would individually. Once our discussion was over I passed out a worksheet that had students writing singular and plural english words and using crayons to color in different parts of their worksheet. Because the students were able to have an open discussion they were not as chatty while they completed their worksheets. This was great because almost every student finished the worksheet with no errors! After every student completed the assessment their was only a small amount of time left where I had students practice reading aloud to the class. I believe this ended my lesson on a fun and positive note.

Overall, I was very satisfied with my lesson. It was so much fun to get to work with second standard students. Even though their were forty student bodies in one room I managed to keep them engaged for the entire 35 minutes. At DPS East I have worked with 4th, 3rd, and 2nd standard. I have loved each standard equally, for different reasons, and will be excited to return to the states with these new experiences to guide me through my student teaching.


The Art of Living

This past Sunday I was able to spend my evening meditating at the Art of Living Art Ashram. When we arrived to the temple grounds I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I be mediating on the floor with my legs crossed? would it be completely silent? Will everyone be able to concentrate but me? I was anxious to begin.

Once we came upon the temple we would be meditating in we took off our shoes and started climbing the marble stair case that led to the temple. Everything inside and outside the temple was beautiful. The grass seemed greener, the marble was smooth on our feet, and the inside was brightly colored. After giving ourselves a tour we each grabbed a pillow and picked an area to sit. Hundreds of people trickled in the next half hour and I was amazed to see how popular this mediation session would be. I started to feel less nervous.

Finally, the event began. By this point I decided that we would most likely be quietly mediating while the leaders would be telling us when to breathe in and breathe out. This is the exact opposite of what happened! The mediation started with a quiet song to get people going and as time went by the music became vibrant with beats and rhythms. Men and children started to dance. Women sat on their pillows and danced in their seats. It was amazing how the music was unifying everyone in the audience. While the mediation (songs and dancing) were taking place I started to notice more things about the temple that I hadn’t before. For instance their were different religious symbols circling the entire room. A Jewish star, a Muslim star and moon, Hindi symbols, and even a cross. This made me love the service even more. I truly feel like anyone in the world could come to this temple and feel free to be their true selves. This experience solidified for me that India is one of the most welcoming cultures in the world. Everyone in India can find a place to belong and I am humbled to have found a home away from home.



Teaching How to Serve

Last Friday I was able to have the unique experience of visiting a government school right outside of Bangalore. I was invited by Vidyashilp Academy and rode the bus with 31 6th standard students for the field trip. In India a government school is somewhere that children can receive an education if they are not able to afford public school prices. Some government schools are better than others and we visited one that has a better reputation of taking care of their students. While riding the bus I had no idea what to expect. I have worked in title one schools in the United States, visited rural schools in Central America, therefor tried to envision a middle ground between these two categories. Either way I knew I would just need to wait patiently until the bus arrived.

Once our bus pulled on to the property of People’s Trust School my nerves started to ease seeing students excited for visitors and wearing their best dress to impress. As we unloaded everyone from the bus we were led to a large, open building for all of us to wait until the students were prepared to come in. While the students waited I walked around investigating the school for myself. The school consisted of two small buildings, farming property, and a beautiful temple that was hidden from the main road. The man that gave us a tour of the school was the founder’s son. His passion for the students and staff was incredible and made me realize how important it is for standouts who have lower incomes to have a safe haven such as this government school.

After my tour of the school and property it was time for the work to begin. The intention of this field trip was for 6th standard students to prepare a mini lesson for small groups of the government schools. As I walked around and listened to the different lessons that were prepared I was so proud of the students from Vidyashilp. Their kindness and respect towards the students at the government school were just as impressive as the lessons they prepared. I believe this type of field trip is something that should be encouraged in the United States. Students need to be taught the importance of serving others. When I return to the states I will make sure to implement the importance of serving in my classroom.

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Exam Week

For the past 6 days DPS East students have been enduring their first rounds of examinations. It was very interesting to see the process and reactions to their week of exams. The schedule of this week had students taking one exam, every morning from 8:55 to 10:00 AM. The exams included: social studies, math, Hindi, science, and English. What I noticed that was primarily different from USA testing is that most students felt more prepared for their exams. I feel like this is because DPS gears most of their curriculum towards testing. This is good and bad. Good because they seem to feel more confident and perform better on their tests, bad because they experience more anxiety as they become older. As I observed this past week I wondered how students at DPS East could still feel confident about taking their exams without having teachers and staff putting so much emphasis and pressure on the students to perform well.

This made me start thinking about the cons of American testing in schools. Problems that I have seen occurring in the states is that teachers are encouraged to be creative and have a flexible classroom syllabus. That way students can learn life skills and not just textbook material. The problem is that teachers are not given the time they need to prepare their students for exams and have creative lesson plans. I believe that the teaching culture in the untied states revolves more around student life skills than preparation for exams. This seemed fine to me until I realized why other students in different countries perform so well on tests. I feel like there has to be a way to combine the positive elements of teaching that the United States and India implement in their classrooms.

Overall, this week of examinations has shown me pros and cons to take home with me to the states. I want my future students to feel well prepared for their tests and be excited to perform to their best ability. Although, I do not want my students to feel pressured and have anxiety over their exams. I believe that a grade does not define a student. Unfortunately the rest of the world has yet to come to that realization. In the mean time I am going to try my hardest to combine both elements of the Indian and American style classroom that I think create a healthy and positive classroom atmosphere.